cover image Poison


Bridget Zinn. Hyperion, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4231-3993-5

Kyra, a 16-year-old Master Potioner (specialty: poisonous weaponry) is on a mission to kill her best friend, Princess Ariana. Sounds grim, except this assassin has a piglet guide (dubbed Rosie) and occasionally wears frilly underwear that gets exposed at the most inopportune moments—like when the handsome and blithe wanderer Fred shows up. Kyra may wear black and stash all manner of weapons about her person, but she doesn’t really want to hurt anyone (indeed, many of the potions she uses are meant to induce sleeping or confusion). She wouldn’t think of it if it weren’t for her frightening visions of the destruction of the kingdom, all of which seem to hinge on Ariana. Or do they? The late Zinn’s debut novel unfolds as a romping, fairy-tale quest with more than one twist up its sleeve. The story is vivid, headlong, and occasionally tongue in cheek, and the narrative’s dark moments never get too scary because everything else is so much fun. Ages 12–18. Agent: Michael Stearns, Upstart Crow Literary. (Mar.)